The JAMES – IROHA TOUR


“Hello, you’re welcome to my photo garage……”
That moment was priceless and golden. I flashed back to the first moment I heard that voice which was when he was awarded the life time award at NiPHEC (Nigerian Photography Expo and Conference) 2015. Uche James Iroha is a photographer and I had been following him for a long while on social media. Meeting him in person this time around was quite a thrilling experience and it was one of the major experiences that defined the past week except of course the day when I…. (Top secret! Not to be shared with any one *smiles). That aside, it was such a great time and I can’t wait to let the cat out of the bag.
I, along with my fellow interns from eloPhotos studios were given the opportunity to visit Uche James Iroha; one of the top photography products of Nigeria to learn from him and let him share his experiences with us.
We arrived the venue at around 12:13 pm and from the view outside, we knew we were in for serious business. Though he didn’t come to attend to us till around 12:31 pm, his trainees did a good job at entertaining us. Even the artwork on the walls were not left out, we were enthralled as the sight; it was quite amazing. During our time of waiting, we exploited the moment in taking selfies and settling ourselves down awaiting the man of the moment.
He didn’t take long before he came and he gave us enough time to familiarize ourselves with the environment. We had our seats and were all ready to listen to him speak and inspire us all.
“I am James; Uche James Iroha, I am a photographer and the conductor at this photo-garage” that was his introduction which to me is worth an award. I guess I was expecting to hear “I am the award winning, Nigeria’s top bla bla blah” but I was dumbfounded as his reply was simple, straight and quite humble for a top photographer like him. It reminded me of how humble I must rem ain no matter how far I go in this photography journey. He gave a quick introduction of himself and told some stories and as you can expect, it was full of humour. I kept staring at him; I had never expected him to be this warm and friendly based on my assumption of his kind of personality. He had proven me wrong. He explained that he calls himself the conductor of the garage because God (which he calls the driver) was only using him to get a number of people to a destination. After spending a couple of time talking about his photography, he moved on to telling us all to introduce ourselves and the genre of photography we intend specializing in.
Introduction began in earnest and he dedicated special time towards each and everybody that introduced themselves. He would explain the technical needed in that form of photography, the skills needed and sometimes his experiences in that field. His trainees weren’t left out as they were also given the opportunity to learn from the visit.
Fast forward to round 3:54 pm.  Heavy heads, burning hearts, eyes with passion and photography visions on fire, Mr. James ended the meeting with him. We couldn’t help but be marvelled at so much depth that had just been released which obviously was far from the shutter speed, aperture and ISO which many of us had learned and relearned; it was a new perspective to photography. One of the things we had learnt amongst all were what he defined as the 6 steps to a creative work which includes:
Look
See
Observe
Study
Confirm
And then shoot!
We had several pictures with him and in no time, we were all on our way to the studio.no doubt, we had been filled. As Mr. Seun would always say, it is the implementation of these things that matter and not just the hearing. It was overall a great outing; one enough to write a book from.
I am Boluwatife Akindele and I am a photographer desperate to implement these things in my business.

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ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET GO – My first day at school


SUNDAY, 5TH JULY 2015. 9:37 pm

I had just finished a chaper of Don Soderquist’s The Walmart way – The inspiring story of one of the world’s biggest (or biggest if I’m not mistaken) retail store and more than ever I felt so inspired to be a part of the eloPhotos experience (My internship programme) and give whatever it takes to be at the top of my game at school which had been scheduled to kick off the next day!

Still sunk in memories of the book, I began to pen a few things in my jotter which would form the basis of what I planned to achieve during my stay at eloPhotos! As much as I was eagerly passionate about it, I was worried! Well, not until I remembered God’s word for me in 1 Peter 5:7 encouraging me to cast all my cares on Him.

I concluded to myself that I was going to take things as they come and give my best at everything I would lay my hands upon. I tried reading… couldn’t just concentrate as many images and ideas bugged me real hard… The last time I had this experience was probably when I was to resume senior secondary school which was my first boarding school experience. No doubt, the next day was gonna be the beginning of a life changing encounter. I just couldn’t wait for it!

MONDAY, 4TH JULY 2015. 4:20 AM

Waking up very early in the morning wasn’t quite of an issue; having to hand over everything to God simply does the trick for me. With my mind set on the goal – not getting to school late, I did every single thing with respect to time. Don’t ask me why I didn’t want to get to school late. If you’ve done your assignment well, *Lol you’d know by now that Mr. Seun hates late coming with a passion. Sometimes I wonder whether he had once had a terrible experience with late coming. I had waited for this moment all my life and here it was. In no time, I was ready to go to school and for me, I was beginning to “smell” fulfilment even though for me it was still miles away.

Anyone who had seen me going to the park would have thought I was almost late for a flight. All that occupied my mind was the experience that was about to begin.

Fast forward to when I alighted at First gate bus stop (The bus stop just few meters away from eloPhotos). Walking, jogging, running, sincerely I don’t know what I was doing. At that moment, I felt like Paul in Philippians 3:14 “pressing on towards the goal”.

“Akin!!!” (My surname is Akindele, hence the use of Akin as the call in this story) My heart skipped a beat. I would recognize Mr. Seun’s voice even in the deepest of oceans. I had heard that voice over and over again even in my dreams. Come to think of it, I think I had a dream the night before about Mr. Seun. Now I can’t even properly recollect. I took a walk back to meet him and his first daughter (the famous Anuoluwapo). The details of our conversation, I won’t reveal. Now before you think anything, it was just one of the normal teacher – student instructions oh and nothing more!

Monday, 4th JULY 2015. 8:00 am

I heard voices singing and for a second I thought of the angels singing Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord. In a few minutes I knew it was the morning devotion I had read about for so many months now. I joined them in worshipping and it reminded me of the quiet time I had some hours earlier in the day. It’s quite funny how my brain works; how that virtually everything reminds me of something else. I believe I’m weird; quite strange and unusual. I enjoyed every single moment of the worship. It was led by a colleague I later got to know is named Tunde. Then, the moment of truth was here when we had to sit and hear our boss of life (Mr. Seun Akisanmi) talk to us. Just before you think of another thing it reminded me of, just let me continue my story. My mind went places again. As we laughed and laughed, I almost imagined how interesting it would have been for the 12 disciples listening to Jesus sitting in rounds. He wasn’t Jesus but for real, we were and still are his disciples! Over time, I have discovered that I never get bored listening to Mr. Seun. I always love looking into his eyes as he talks. It has formed a great inspiration for me personally. I was almost thinking of just remaining in eloPhotos for a life time. I felt quite strange in the midst of these guys; it was my first time and I was unfamiliar with anyone except of course the one and only Mr. Seun. Mr. Seun had to introduce me to the whole class as the newest intern and I had to join everyone in narrating how the previous week had gone. This for me, helped my accountability life. I now knew that apart from God, there still is someone I need to report myself to every week.

Oh no, don’t tell me I forgot to tell you this, just during the introduction, Mr. Seun dropped the shocker; Anuoluwapo, his first daughter had told him that I looked like a secondary school student! Strange right, well I guess that was a pointer to the fact that I needed to… no. I’d just be myself. I wished I had given her the little gift in my bag though.

After the disciple experience, we had quite a short time to “flex” just before our class began. The class was taken by Mr. Toye Peters and we had a great time, I must confess. I wished this experience would just continue – for us to listen to photography gist on and on and on. Oh…did I tell you I saw the spectacular Miss kike. She was also around for our devotion even though she wasn’t FULLY with us. Every day I get an opportunity to take a close look at her, I’m always awed ‘cuz to me, nothing is special about her o – just small, light complexioned and all but she has such a big brain, big heart and tack sharp images *Lol (I learnt that also from http://www.elophotos.com). Of a truth, as a lady, she inspires me. She makes me just want to go the extra mile in photography. By the way, her full name is Kikelomo Koleosho and the name of her outfit is Red 19 photography (I bet that rings a bell).

So, back to 12b Fagba crescent Agidingbi, (That was just a proverbial way of mentioning eloPhotos studios); I had a real time familiarizing myself with the environment and of course with the interns learning photography. We had a bit of practicing with the camera and all. It’s really funny how time just flies when you’re at eloPhotos especially when you have to talk business with Mr. Seun; you just get inspired all the way. I felt like spending some more time but then, I had to go home.

I was tired, weak and hungry but at the same time joyful, inspired and fired up! My first day at school sorry eloPhotos was an experience to be written in one’s diary. I got home a bit late – You know how traffic can be in Lasgidi nah but I was really happy to have made such a great decision. I couldn’t wait for the next day to come

I am Boluwatife Akindele and more than ever, I’m proud to be a photographer and to be associated with eloPhotos academy!

How BEANS Can Make or Mar Your Photography Career


I almost couldn’t believe it was already Thursday. I mean, what happened earlier in the week? it’s not like I was in a coma or anything, the week just flew by very fast. I do remember now.

My boss (SEUN AKISANMI, for those who don’t know by now) had hinted at the fact that I was forgetting important details easily, so was he. In fact, he had ordered a Memory Book, (no kidding, he really ordered a book that teaches how to improve one’s memory). The book had not been delivered yet so I did the next best thing; I went on a BEANS diet.

How would eating beans everyday improve my memory? I had no clue, but somewhere in my pretty little brain, I believed it would. ‘More protein, less starch’ kind of thing so the beans marathon started on Monday. I had beans for breakfast three days in a row. I also had half a portion of beans for dinner on two of those days.

The beans I had for breakfast was not any kind of beans. It is the type called Ewa Agoyin. For people who never eat outside or grew up in a palace, Ewa Agoyin means nothing but for those of us who grew up in a place like Agege, Lagos, you know exactly what I am talking about.

I had a few friends while growing up who I have lost contact with but Ewa Agoyin is one childhood friend that I still get together with. Whenever we hang out, it is as though time never passed. So, you can imagine why this beans diet wasn’t a huge challenge for me.

Whether my memory diet worked or not is debatable. I believe it did to an extent but I had to put a stop to it on Thursday. I was tired of what this childhood friend was doing to my marriage. It was making me speak to my husband in a language I normally don’t speak. By “speak”, I don’t mean talking with my mouth (let him that readeth understand). For the reader who is still having trouble understanding, the beans diet was making me make noises through the posterior of my anatomy.

As I thought about what beans had done to me that week, I was glad my embarrassing moments were in the privacy of my home and in the presence of my husband. What if those moments happened while I was out on a job?

Imagine you are shooting a portrait session of a couple in a quiet location. You already have them in your award-winning pose and you know the angle from which you would be taking the shot. It would require you getting in the squatting position. Your clients are all smiles, they have their pose right and everything is playing out just the way you envisioned. You get in the squat position and just a fraction of a second before you press the shutter, you let out a batch of violent-sounding fart. One so loud it drowns whatever noise your shutter might have made.

It’s almost painful to imagine for me. I think that would be a perfect moment either for the ground to open up and swallow me or for the trumpet to sound and rapture takes place.

Perhaps you think my feelings are exaggerated. Only a man would feel it wasn’t such a big deal. I remember once having a teacher that habitually farted in class and would simply say,”Ha, I ate a lot of beans”, as if that was supposed to make it all better for his students.

Passing gas loudly in front of clients would be devastating for a female photographer, I think. No matter what my male colleagues say, I believe a man would experience some degree of embarrassment too; except the clients in question are childhood friends of yours and you all played the game, “loudest fart”, as kids.

What’s the whole point of me writing an elaborate post on how farting can erode your ego as a photographer? Well, you know it’s the little things we never think (or talk) about that affect our business and reputation as photographers. Clients won’t remember your brand of lens and could care less if you used a full-frame camera or not. What they would probably not forget is how loud your fart was. So before you go on a beans diet, think about how it might affect your client relations and your photography career as a whole.

Ronke Alao
Writer |Photographer|Poet